without, without

Without that initial sting, you would not have known what it felt like to fondle an allergy in the shape of woman/man/human love affair. We fear the bee’s song and yet their music gives us honey and yet their bodies give us sweetener.

Without you, I might not have renamed myself into an open-heart surgery. That evening when you noticed the additional scars, I knew you were less cumulus and more like sheared wind. There is so much hunger wedged inside memory. And the blood marinates every gap. And the solemn way in which bodies shelve themselves against another like alphabetized books of poetry. I will call you Bukowksi, but only if you say it back to me.

Without that huddle of static and forage. Without belly like basket where the honey goes. Without the fear that this will hurt and it will hurt. Without without. There would be no flight of this magic. This golden. This delicious. This love.

a festival of instrumental rain

Cellos can be flesh eating when held upright. I want to write a poem from my body. Done before. No. I want to write a poem from the point of view of blood gurgle or lung expansion or the tilt of thighs when handled by another. I want my body to verbalize how it feels when someone walks inside it. Rain drops on window’d eyes; blink blink blink away the sky ejaculate or welcome in welcome in its beautiful aggression. Bangs may only be worn by those who are straight-follicled. Percussion can be learned by excessive practice; bang against bang forward bang in a pattern body begs to be bruised in. Call that the music of skin changing colour. Harmonize the salt the drip the toe crunching the scars that make the others not want you like that the callus the wrist bone the boners the turn-on of heart when heart loses battery the arrival the arrival you are arriving, right? Right. Take out your ukelele. Bring it outside. The rain will pause when you search out a shadow burly enough to call umbrella. Now play. Now sing. Now call out your love letters to the only one who has remained past the past.

the erotics of scar tissue

Many years ago, a woman grabbed my arm at a poetry reading. She rubbed her thin, bony fingers along my textured forearms and told me they looked like an art project.

The lines are so even and perfectly slanted, she said. Did it take you awhile to get it like that?

And I wondered if this was foreplay or irony or naiveté or ignorance. How to respond to any of those?

I yanked my body out from her grip and stared. We were in a coffee shop in a town overrun by mountains and patchouli-drenched hippies. A young dreadlocked boy was on stage. He sounded out a poem about his mother and newly dead turtle. The entire place could have been on fire; all this woman cared about were the coordinates of my scars.


I am driving in the only car I’ve ever owned, which is now in the possession of a mechanic’s daughter. My green Honda Civic with cigarette burns from that time and accumulated hours of sex in the back seat and a tape deck and discarded post-its of directions from all those other times. Gas tank reads: fill me so I head to the cheapest gas station on route 9. New Jersey still does not trust their drivers with gasoline, so I roll down the window and ask for $10 worth. I hand over my currency and the man with moustache or stubble or grease on his face (who can remember) asks me where all those marks came from. It is summertime where nude limbs are necessary and all I can say is: Sex.

Years trying to make others more comfortable pushed the trauma out further and all I am left with are disjointed reasons and shame. And they’ve spread through the years past arms to shoulders to belly to hips.


They are the first thing I notice when they are noticeable. All the bodies pressed against me have given me their scar stories because their version is far better than the assumed ones. And with each narrative, ownership is engraved further.

It’s love when I let you touch them; it’s trust when I tell you how each one arrived; it’s long term when I can be honest with you about the last time.

It’s not so rare anymore: the occurrences of scars.  Sidewalks are uneven and loved ones hit and there’s all that running away that causes so many to fall and crack open.

Someone new at some point is going to see them all on my body. The disrobe will be in slow-motion not for erotics, but from fear. But when I meet someone who calls my body a map or cracked open sky or simply: earth because it is alive and giving and collaged with shapes and sounds, all those scars will blink open. There will be no need to hide because without them, I wouldn’t be here. . . . . . . .

Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.

a visit back to exit signs and U-turns

What is there to do here besides loot mother’s pill stash / cover limbs in preservatives and aluminum slashes / memorize the pattern of face expansion and bleach stains on adolescent scalp in framed photographs / watch television for less than ten minutes after realization there is no substance to these moving pictures / eat crackers coated in the aroma of childhood / look through cupboards and count the deer marching in backyard/ & / wonder what part of this exit still exists in you.


she makes love to the hysteria of inscriptions on sternum

stop me if you’ve heard the one about the gender neutral pronoun and the one who got away because that one did not prefer leashes like this one or the time the basement flood like her body on that Wednesday in August or when her lover threw fire against that pile of bones and what they wanted were ashes but all they were left with were doctor’s bills.

On exit 9, one may collect residences like sexually transmitted diseases: a starting place of hope leading toward infection and regret. On your right is the time she almost hung herself with view of geese and donated benches. To your far left, the school she ran away from.

She used to wear dresses; she still cuts her own hair; she is no longer a virgin; she still dreams of death; she has replaced Plath with Bukowksi; she still cheats and hijacks bodies; she hoards secrets and screams; she stopped telling them what her plans are.

What is there to do here besides transcribe the vital signs from one doorway to the next / feed limbs to the ghosts / memorize the way cracks and weight gain allow room for swallowed analyses / memorize mother for signs of openness / eat enough meat to bloat away the aroma of aged vegetarianism / look through self to search out what has changed, shifted, evolved, calmed down / & / wonder what part of this exit still exists.

a poem should not mean/ but be

a poem should not mean/ but be     — Archibald MacLeish

Early on,  s)he]  troubled those brave enough to listen. Teachers contacted hir parents, worried for hir safety. Suddenly, the poems were jumping off the page, growing sharp from tumbling through the air at fast speeds and forming sharp angles. These poems split hir wrists open. When  s)he]  was newly sixteen, several poems turned hir forearms into a gingham criss-cross pattern.  s)he]  horded several bottles of poems and swallowed over forty-two of various milligrams and side effects. Doctors attempted to pump hir stomach. s)he]  threw up the poems and they splattered against the floor like scattered bone particles.

In the years to come,  s)he]  began to experiment with various forms of poems, some digested through nose or ignited and inhaled.  s)he]  learned the power of serving size.  s)he]  grew loud, rather, the poems grew so loud, it was almost impossible to remain silent within the pain of hir body.

In an interview by a New York Times reporter after the release of hir third book of poems,  s)he]  said:

“Of course there is an urgency in my work because there is an urgency to live. I spent  years tearing into my body, swatting it away as though it were a swarm of mosquitoes. I wanted to make an imprint. I wanted to make an impression beyond the scars, beyond the jilted lovers. In life, I am a liar. A pretender. I am not very good at being alive. But when I write poems, or when I perform them, it’s like I’m taking a giant seam ripper and undoing every scar, every lie, every emotion. If I could only live inside my poems, breathe off the fumes of their intentions, I could make it. I could last.

think of poems as suicide letters

desperate medications

press into carbon and oxygen and choke


To exit: how it feels to be entrenched in these poems, write the pain of it, the journey, trauma, translated

hurt-songs, scar chants



{how to} walk off a stage or poem and be normal.




strap magnifying lenses against pupils                   detect hidden fibers defining each line




feel it before she dies and no clarity can be given.




Look away. Diagnose. Crush pills onto tongue repeat daily. Repeat daily. Repeat daily.

                                                                                                                Repeat daily.




Quiet the crazy creative emotive


a lover called moon

On a night where lost is everywhere, you look up and there is a face without judgement without declaratives or requests. A face without gender. It is no more remorseful than proud. It exists without fear of heights because it is so far up no yoga practice could stretch limbs enough to reach it. Accept this. It’s not about reach, but realization. You are overwhelmed on this night and last night and tomorrow night but in this moment you gather insight from this nightlight. Your fears hide inside imaginary pockets. You are monogamous with this moon; there is no one else that matters. No where you need to be and there is nothing you need to say. Put your pen and notebook away. You will remember how you feel in this moment because it will dig its satellite into your scars. Each one of them. Don’t make a wish; this is not about that. If you must if you must pray, use your body as a gesture of psalms. People pass you during this moment and you will want to tell them to look up too but they will notice when they’re ready. For now, it is you. And isn’t this romantic. And isn’t this the lover you have been searching for: far enough as to not smother away your senses and silences; gender neutral (yes, because your queerness is suddenly blurring into something that begs for shapes such as these that cannot be marked into a category). How beautiful how beautiful but this is not not about beauty. When you must part because the cold air tangles with your breaths so you must go inside and this moon lover will not follow you in like the others, you say goodbye. Do not weep in anticipation of missing it. The moon still exists even if you no longer notice it. When you are ready or warm, go back outside to sing it goodnight. Or remain there in its silent glow and wonder what it’s like to be so high.

tell me how to live (part 2)

then, believe

notice that stains exist on coffee mugs like blots of art created from your lips and sips that never quite made it in

notice that the moon is resilient–an animal in the sky, curled up creature snoring out a radiant satellite

notice the way she carries your tears like Atlas and the whole world / your salt in her palms / an entire existence on his shoulders

notice the arrangement of scars on freckled body resembling the cuts in sky from airplane soar

notice the way your teeth bite into human interactions and the slow digestion of new friendships

notice how others smile once you do and how magnificent it feels to be noticed

and don’t forget to exercise

Apparently, my body is changing.

Years ago, things I ate disappeared upon final bite, whereas now, the weight of what I eat lingers against particular parts of my body. My eating habits really haven’t changed, but I am unapologetic of what I ingest (my body / my choice) though I am a fairly “healthy” eater.

I crave farmer’s markets and the vegetables they sell with soil still stitched to their rind. I crave quinoa and brown rice and avocado and peanut butter. I yearn for meat sometimes and always bread. I love cake and rainbow cookies and chocolate. I don’t really have restrictions and diet-er is a word I’d never want to label myself, in addition to heterosexual or republican.

I am aware of the bones hidden beneath thick layers of loose skin. I don’t really need them to jut out to remind me they are there.

My memory is ruptured, though I am quite sure there was a time my belly was perfectly flat and I had no cellulite or stretchmarks or what is commonly referred to as a “spare tire”. That time can also be referred to as as years 0 through 11.

Billboards of women reveal hipbones and breasts so perfectly erect and elevated. There are no hangnails or beauty marks moles or calluses on toes or oversized labia or crooked, coffee-stained teeth or pimples.

We are inundated with smooth, tiny, emaciated, bony, and breathless.

So I hide what I’ve got until I realize I have to show it to let others know what else exists.

One of my breasts is slightly larger or smaller than the other and my toes are long (they have been described by lovers as monkey-like) and I am a scar covered in body I have many scars and when I smile, some of my teeth are crooked and I don’t have a six-pack or a two-pack or any resemblance of a container of defined belly and I have cellulite behind my thighs and sometimes 1 or 2 hairs grow on my tits and I wonder why they choose that spot and my ears are large and my earlobes are meaty and and and and

I didn’t forget to exercise, I just choose to write poems instead.

how to remove the claustrophobia and turn it into a poem.

Awake to the sound of too much memory inside me, clogging up the zippers sewed into my skin called scars.

Before sleep, I heard a child speak about beauty. How it cluttered up her mind and confused her into obsession. When I was a child I wore pants until they fell off of me–threads becoming undone. I couldn’t wait to wear make-up and then when I could I preferred looking ghostly or homely or colorful only on the inside.

People rarely remain inside their disfigurations. They cover it up, melt it, insert or take away or laser it off.

My roots are showing; let me paint them a lighter hue. My belly is thickening. Instead of poeming, I’ll sit up and down and up and down and crunch and crunch and force tension to form.

How to live inside a moment. Really. Do we do this anymore? Are we present inside a sight? Though I drink coffee, I am also writing a sentence and catching up with a friend and reading a letter and washing dishes. How to remove the claustrophobia of multi-tasked rushing and slow down toward just one breath or bite or swallow or word.


First thing I notice when I am present is the haunting of black ink on my skin on my hand on the left one near my thumb. Reminders because my mind is so webbed, is so crowded is so removed from itself, I must write on my body to remember how to live or what to buy or what to eat:

fennel. pickles. magnets. newspaper.

I look down and notice my lap, covered in borrowed brown writing blanket. I look up and notice nude tree outside my window, bark wrinkled like elephant skin. I look inside myself and feel hunger, body gathering breaths, pushing them out like invisible babies floating into the air. I gave birth to those inhales and exhales. They are mine! I do not answer phone which rings. I do not click on anything outside of this box. I am singular-tasking. I am present. I am here. I am I am slowing down.

mathematics of beauty

Days do not end, they bloat. They infect. They fall down and get all scraped up and bloodied and then a scab forms and it gets picked at by a different day and then a new scab forms and then and then a scar. Days are like scars. Persistent and showy.

Today may be the final day of this earth. But enough about that.

On subway train where students are high off the fumes of Winter Break, I overhear a lecture on beauty.

Enter the Professor. Assumed (since he sits down for this lecture) to be about 5’11. Young but eager bones. Brown, short cropped hair. Brown skin. Narrow mouth. His shoes are scuffed. He speaks:

“She’s eighty-five percent Puerto Rican and the rest is messy. I’d say she’s a 7.”


Enter the student. Not me, of course. I am the observer. The auditor of this class. I’m not receiving a grade, so I just kind of sit, out of view.

The student is much shorter, also sitting. 5’4, maybe? He has on a handsome necktie and his pants are too short. I notice his socks, off white but once white. His shoes are newly polished. He speaks:

7 is good, right?”

Professor: If you got a 70 on your test, would you think that was good?

Student: Depends on if it was a hard test.

Professor: A 7 is ugly. She’s too short. Like 4′ ll.

Student: What’s wrong with that?

Professor: I know lots of 8’s but I’m looking for 9’s. 10’s don’t exist unless you’re reading like Maxim or somethin’. Those girls aren’t real though.

Student: I’ll take a 6. They’re fine too. What about half numbers?


And I immediately hate myself for thinking this, but….I wonder what number I am. If there is a decimal point, can I be rounded up and what number would I give myself?


Well, I’m not too tall, so there goes the 10. My breasts are small (thankfully…though I wish they were smaller). That would drop my number down for others but bring it back up for me. My hair is red like a house fire. Numbers up once again. Oh, but there’s all those scars. Numbers down. I’m promiscuous sexually open! Numbers are fighting each other. They remain in place. I’m well-educated. Numbers back up. But I’m guarded and have major trust issues and there’s all that trauma and and numbers are plunging. I’m clean. I cook quite well and I have a healthy appetite. Numbers up for the former but the appetite does lead to expanding body. I’m ok with this, though others may not be. Numbers down. I don’t like jewelry or expensive things; I prefer cheesecake and books. Numbers up (though some may want me to lay off the sweets). I don’t have a six-pack and my legs are hairy and I prefer Woody Allen to Tarantino and I don’t chug beer and and. Numbers are in the negatives! I love giving blow jobs but not to biological penises. I’m fatty. I’m impulsive. I’m moody. I’m I’m I’m…

not a number.